Country music legend Loretta Lynn is three years older than she has led people to believe, an age change that undermines the story she told of being married at 13 in "Coal Miner's Daughter," documents obtained by the Associated Press show.
Lynn's birth certificate on file at the state Office of Vital Statistics in Frankfort, Ky., shows that Loretta Webb was born on April 14, 1932, in Johnson County, Ky. That makes her 80 years old, not 77.
The way Lynn chose to tell it in the book, she was married at 13, moved with her husband to Washington State at 16 and was a mother of four by 18. Lynn has six kids in all.
Her marriage certificate, obtained by the AP, shows that Lynn instead married just shy of her 16th birthday, which was not unusual in Kentucky at that time. Her husband was 21.
When contacted by the AP, Lynn's spokeswoman, Nancy Russell of Nashville, Tenn., declined comment. She said that Lynn has told her before in no uncertain terms, "If anyone asks how old I am, tell them it's none of their business!"
Certainly Lynn isn't the first celebrity of a certain age to be less than forthcoming about a birthday, but the discrepancy is significant because age isn't just a number for the Country Music Hall of Fame member. It is woven into her compelling life story, made famous in her 1976 bestselling autobiography, "Coal Miner's Daughter," and the subsequent film starring Sissy Spacek. The movie made $67 million nationwide and was nominated for seven Oscars; Spacek won for her portrayal of Lynn.
The Grammy-winning singer recently announced that it will become a Broadway musical, starring actress and singer Zooey Deschanel.
Music journalist and author Robert K. Oermann, who wrote "Finding Her Voice" about women in country music, said nothing can overshadow Lynn's accomplishments.
"In the 1960s, you didn't have the 24-hour news cycle, saturation of personality journalism that you have today. So what appealed to people was the fact that the songs were so extraordinary. Her singing was so great. Everything about her was so refreshing and country," he said.